What is strength?


Strength is the body's ability to create force upon an object. Force can be defined as Mass (amount of gravitational pull on body) x Acceleration (change in velocity and/or direction). The amount of acceleration needed for the goal/task creates different forms of strength.

Limit Strength:
The maximum force a muscle can produce in a single contraction. The movement is an involuntary action used only during life threatening situations, drugs (PCP), hypnosis. After the movement their muscle will tear because the body cannot tolerate 100% activation of motor units.

Maximum Strength: Is characterized by the maximal force a muscle can generate without a time limit at a specified movement.

Relative Strength: The maximal amount of force an athlete can generate per unit of bodyweight. (wrestling, boxing, powerlifting)

Optimal Strength: The maximal amount of strength an athlete needs for a given sport or goal. Any further strength added will not enhance performance.

Explosive Strength: An athlete’s ability to produce maximal strength in minimum time. Maximum force divided by time taken = Explosive Strength

Starting Strength: The ability of the muscles to develop force at the beginning of a movement. Resistance is light medicine balls are excellent tools to enhance starting strength.

Strength Endurance: The athlete’s ability to prolong fatigue during strength endurance events. (swimming, cycling, running)

Reactive Strength: The ability to move from eccentric to concentric movement as quickly as possible. (plyometrics)

According to the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning textbook, strength is defined as the maximal force that a muscle or muscle group can generate at a specified velocity. However, there are a number of different ‘varieties’ of strength:

- Relative strength: how strong you are in relation to your body weight (pull-ups and dips)

- Maximal strength: this one is pretty much summed up by the definition above

- Isometric strength: holding a muscle contraction to maintain a certain joint angle

- Strength endurance: how long you can repeatedly generate a certain amount of force

Earle, R. & Baechle, T. (2000). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 2nd ed. U.S.: Human Kinetics. p35.

Strength is your body's ability to provide internal tension and exert force against external resistance. There are various forms of strength, for example, stabilization strength, strength endurance, maximal strength, speed strength and power. The strength adaptation you are looking for requires training your body using different exercise parameters that help your body adapt to the goal you desire.

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise Programs

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.